Transcript of exchange in the Dail between Joe Higgins and Bertie Ahern (the Taoiseach). cwi online.
Joe Higgins condemns latest bin tax jailing
Leaders’ Questions, Dáil Éireann, 4th November 2003.
If the Taoiseach wants to retrieve even a shred of credibility for the flawed and ailing political system over which he presides, it is in his hands to take some action to defuse the current situation. Will he call off the attack on the communities of working people by instructing his Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to suspend the bin non-collection order and allow the debate on the bin tax and his local taxation policies to proceed at pace but without thousands of decent men and women being forced to use their peaceful people power in opposition to his draconian policies?
The Taoiseach: I dealt with this issue previously. Nobody is in jail today for peaceful protesting. They are in breach of a court order. They defied the court.
Mr. J. Higgins: They are in jail for peaceful protest but not for murder.
The Taoiseach: That is the reason they are in jail. On the wider issue, I have said previously that direct user charges for household waste collection are widely applied throughout Europe. The polluter pays principle is a requirement of the Waste Management Act. The vast bulk of householders pay the charge for waste collection and disposal. It is the law of the land. It has been passed through the democratic process and it should be respected by all citizens equally. I have no comment to make about the courts but if people do not comply with the order of the courts, the law is handed out to everybody equally.
Mr. J. Higgins: As usual the Taoiseach completely ignored the stark double standards over which his Government presides. Is it not incredible that gardaí say they cannot muster sufficient resources and personnel to prevent the abandonment of a murder trial through naked and brutal intimidation? Working class communities wait hours, if not days, before gardaí respond to their calls but the county and city managers in Dublin can at any time muster endless numbers of gardaí to push and pull at peaceful protesters against their policy of bin non-collection. The gardaí can be freely used to brow-beat and frighten communities into giving up their opposition. Within the suburbs, incredibly, Garda stations are closing down to deal with entirely peaceful protests.
The Taoiseach’s Government has turned the standards of a civilised society on its head. The innocent and compliant taxpayers, the lifelong taxpayers who are now contributory pensioners, are being hounded, harassed and jailed because the Taoiseach wants to use the courts and the paraphernalia of the State to force new taxation policies upon them but the millionaire bankers who have organised massive fraud, and now knife-wielding gangsters, are out of reach.